By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
MONTGOMERY — After breezing through their regional qualifying tournament without a loss, then dispensing with a top-10 opponent in the first round of the state tournament, Corner’s softball team showed all the appearances of a juggernaut headed for a big finish to the season.
Then that juggernaut hit a huge wall. Not once, but twice.
The Yellow Jackets’ run in the AHSAA Class 4A State Tournament came to an early end Thursday night, as they fell 14-4 to Area 8 rival Oak Grove.
It was Corner’s second big loss in seven hours’ time, after they were knocked out of the winners’ bracket by unheralded Central-Florence 14-0.
Those losses came after the fifth-ranked Jackets opened play at Montgomery’s Lagoon Park with a 10-1 rout of No. 4 Sardis. Pitcher Madison McCormack started things off in a big way when she smashed the second pitch she faced over the temporary fence to light the fuse for a five-run first-inning rally.
Baylee McCormack and Abby Deason each had two RBIs; Deason's came on a two-run single in the first. Morgan Daniel and Jordan Entrekin each went 3-for-4. Madison McCormack struck out nine and scattered five hits.
But that was as good as it got for Corner.
Central-Florence slugger Andi Kimbrough went 4-for-5 with six RBIs on a home run and three doubles, as the Wildcats started off fairly slow but finished big. Central’s coup de grace was a six-run rally in the sixth inning.
Bailey Nelson was 4-for-5 and scored four times for Central.
Wildcat pitcher Ashley Irons allowed just two hits and struck out six. Madison Purvis and Jordan Entrekin had one hit each for Corner.
Then things went from bad to worse for the Jackets as they faced Oak Grove, a team Corner had beaten handily three times this season — but not four.
The Tigers got home runs from Tanner Brown and Courtney Hood, who also added a double in the 14-4 five-inning mercy-rule win. Brown’s homer ended the game in the bottom of the fifth, as she launched a 0-1 pitch from Madison McCormack to score herself, Hood and Hannah Woods.
Corner banged out eight hits, but also committed five errors. Entrekin slammed a two-run homer and an RBI single to account for most of her team’s offense.
With their neighbors sidelined, Hayden is now the last local team remaining in the state tournament. They begin their Class 5A campaign Friday at noon as they take on Shelby County. Win or lose, their second game will be played at 7 p.m.